Matt Blaze

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Matt Blaze
Matt Blaze at DEF CON 20 in 2012
Alma materPrinceton University
Columbia University
Hunter College[1]
Known forCryptography
Trust management
Scientific career
FieldsComputer security
Distributed systems[1]
InstitutionsGeorgetown University[2]
University of Pennsylvania[1]
Bell Labs[3]

Matt Blaze is an American researcher who focuses on the areas of secure systems, cryptography, and trust management. He is currently the McDevitt Chair of Computer Science and Law at Georgetown University,[2][4] and is on the board of directors of the Tor Project.[5]


Blaze received his PhD in computer science from Princeton University.

In 1992, while working for AT&T, Blaze implemented a strong cryptographic package known as "CFS", the Cryptographic File System, for Unix, since ported to Linux.[6] CFS uses Network File System as its transport mechanism, allowing users to encrypt selected directory hierarchies, but mount them unencrypted after providing the key. In November, 1993, he presented a paper on this project, "A Cryptographic File System for Unix", at the 1st ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security.[7] Blaze also published a paper "Key Management in an Encrypting File System", in the Proceedings USENIX Summer 1994 Technical Conference.

In the early 1990s, at the height of the "crypto war", Blaze was a participant in the Cypherpunks mailing list[8] and in 1994, he found a critical weakness in the wiretapping mechanisms of the Clipper chip.[3] His paper, Protocol Failure in the Escrowed Encryption Standard,[9] pointed out that the Clipper's escrow system had a serious vulnerability: a brute-force attack could allow the Clipper chip to be used as an encryption device, while disabling the key escrow capability.[9][10][11] Later during this time, he was one of the authors of a seminal paper on calculating secure key lengths.[12]

After leaving Bell, Blaze was an associate professor of computer and information science at the University of Pennsylvania[13] from 2004 to 2018.[2] Blaze has noted a long-term conflict with the university's locksmith over his master key & safecracking publications.[14] He then joined the faculty at Georgetown University, on a joint appointment at Georgetown Law and the department of computer science.

In 2015, Blaze was part of a team of proponents that included Steven M. Bellovin, J. Alex Halderman, Nadia Heninger, and Andrea M. Matwyshyn who successfully proposed a security research exemption to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.[15]

In July 2016, the complete board of the Tor Project resigned and announced a new board, including Matt Blaze.[16][17]

In 2018, crypto Visa card company Monaco paid Blaze an undisclosed amount for the rights to the domain[18] Blaze had registered the domain in 1993 and sellers have estimated that the value of the domain was US$5–10 million.[19]


  • Ph.D., Computer Science, January 1993. Princeton University. (Dissertation: Caching in Large-Scale Distributed File Systems)
  • M.A., Computer Science, June 1989. Princeton University
  • M.S., Computer Science, May 1988. Columbia University
  • B.S., January 1986. City University of New York (Hunter College)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Penn Engineering - Research Directory Profile". Princeton University. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "One of World's Leading Computer and Network Security Experts Joins Georgetown Faculty". Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b Markoff, John (3 June 1994). "At AT&T, No Joy on Clipper Flaw". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Matthew Blaze Moves to Georgetown University". Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  5. ^ Perlroth, Nicole (13 July 2016). "Tor Project, a Digital Privacy Group, Reboots With New Board". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 July 2016.
  6. ^ "Using CFS, the Cryptographic Filesystem", Oct 15, 2002, Jerry Sweet, Linux Journal
  7. ^ "A Cryptographic File System for Unix", Matt Blaze,
  8. ^ Rodger, Will (30 November 2001). "Cypherpunks RIP". The Register. Retrieved 14 July 2016. Past participants include noted cryptographers such as Matt Blaze ...
  9. ^ a b Blaze, Matt (August 20, 1994). "Protocol Failure in the Escrowed Encryption Standard" (PDF). Proceedings of the 2nd ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security: 59–67.
  10. ^ Security Flaw Allows Wiretaps to Be Evaded, Study Finds", John Schwartz and John Markoff, New York Times, November 30, 2005
  11. ^ Between a Hacker and a Hard Place", Peter H. Lewis, The New York Times, April 10, 1995
  12. ^ Blaze, Matt; Diffie, Whitefield; Rivest, Ronald L.; Schneier, Bruce; Shimomura, Tsutomu; Thompson, Eric; Wiener, Michael (January 1996). "Minimal key lengths for symmetric ciphers to provide adequate commercial security". Fortify. Retrieved 14 October 2011.
  13. ^ "Penn Engineering Profile". Retrieved 1 March 2019.
  14. ^ @mattblaze (July 30, 2022). "So we got into this vicious (to him) or virtuous (to me) cycle, where every time I'd do any researching or give any…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  15. ^ "Section 1201 Rulemaking: Sixth Triennial Proceeding to Determine Exemptions to the Prohibition on Circumvention" (PDF).
  16. ^ "Tor Project installs new board of directors after Jacob Appelbaum controversy", Colin Lecher, July 13, 2016, The Verge
  17. ^ "The Tor Project Elects New Board of Directors" Archived 2017-08-06 at the Wayback Machine, July 13th, 2016,
  18. ^ Russell, Jon (8 July 2018). "Crypto Visa card company Monaco just spent millions to buy". TechCrunch.
  19. ^ Robertson, Adi (2018-07-06). ", the multimillion-dollar cryptography domain whose owner refused to sell, has been sold". The Verge. Retrieved November 19, 2021.

External links[edit]